Knowing when to head to the emergency room for medical assistance, and when not to, can be a complex decision. Nurses at the Fayette County Memorial Hospital Same Day Care Clinic have some advice for people who need to know when to go straight into the emergency room, see a primary doctor, or visit the Same Day Care Clinic.
People with chest pain, severe shortness of breath, and trouble breathing should always seek immediate medical attention at the emergency room or call 911.
Dustin Harmeyer, certified nurse practitioner at the Same Day Care Clinic, said adults and children with fevers can be treated at the Same Day Care Clinic, with the exception of newborns.
“[If] you’re a newborn baby, then it might be best to go to the ER for the risk of dehydration…versus the older you get, the risk of dehydration is reduced, then the Same Day Care center becomes more appropriate because it’s much less emergent,” said Harmeyer.
Harmeyer said people should head directly to the ER when they have very high fevers, such as 105 degrees, if they have tried fever reducers but the medicine did not work.
“At 105 degrees, that’s brain trouble,” said Harmeyer.
For animal bites, treatment will depend on the location of the bite and the severity.
Sam Perrin, a registered nurse at the Same Day Care Clinic, said people with lacerations who need stitches can be treated at the clinic.
“It is very dependent on how extensive the laceration is. If it’s just a puncture wound or something small, that would be Same Day Care,” said Perrin.
But if the bite is on the face, there is trouble breathing, or the laceration is large and requires medical imaging, the ER is more appropriate, said Perrin.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary tract infections, which can effect the kidneys or bladder, can be treated at the Same Day Care Clinic when a person’s primary care doctor is unavailable.
“You need to be seen, but your doctor is busy. The ER can see you, but honestly the wait time over here will probably be easier and it’s something we can take care of easily. It reduces the burden on the ER and allows them to see people with chest pain or something more significant that is life-threatening versus something that definitely needs seen but is not life threatening,” said Harmeyer.
Medical issues that need more frequent care, such as diabetes, can be treated best by becoming established with a primary doctor.
“The doctor the patient is established with can work with the patient on more detailed care,” said Harmeyer, but he also emphasized that if the person is an established patient with a doctor at Fayette County Memorial Hospital, the Same Day Care Clinic can help the patient facilitate care and schedule appointments with their primary care doctor, including any follow-up or after-care.
Other conditions that are life-threatening and require emergency room attention include suicidal thoughts or feelings, severe and persistent abdominal pain, bleeding, trouble swallowing, swelling in the neck or face, and seizures. People with signs of a heart attack, stroke, or any chest pain and shortness of breath, still need to be seen at the ER.
For all other medical conditions that are not life-threatening, the Same Day Care Clinic can provide medical treatment to established patients.
Established patients are those people who are already established with a doctor or specialist at the Fayette County Memorial Hospital. The Same Day Care Clinic cannot establish a patient who comes in as a brand new visitor, and just because a person has visited the emergency room, does not mean they are an established patient; those are two separate systems, said Perrin and Harmeyer.